Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I've hung up my dress-for-success clothes, and pulled my domestic "genes" out of storage.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ms. Toody's Five Favorite Posts of 2013

Five Favorite Posts of 2013 --- Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
Since I started blogging back in March, I've written over 100 posts. Some I like better than others.

Obviously, these are the ones I like better. Best.
 
Before we get to them, I've got something to say. 

I'm really glad we're friends.

I am so appreciative to all of you who read and comment on my little blog. I had no idea what a wonderful, warm and welcoming community I was joining, and how many of you I would come to think of as real friends. I find myself thinking about you as I go about my day...and miss you when I don't hear from you. I do stop short of saying, "call me when you get home" in my comments to you, but you get what I'm saying, right?

I'm saying Thank You :-)

OK, back to the Five Faves.  Last week, I wrote about my five most popular dessert recipe posts for 2013, but now I'm sharing my personal favorites in case you missed them the first time, or started following me more recently...or if I wrote them before anyone even knew I had a blog.

Here goes...

1. THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT AND THE MUDROOM

Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect?  It is a real scientific principle, which simply put, says that the slightest change to one thing can have a huge affect on something seemingly unrelated. An example often given is that a butterfly flapping its wings in Mexico can cause a hurricane in Florida. I got to thinking that maybe if I renovated my mud room, it would precipitate some ideas as to how I might re-invent myself after giving up my career. Read more...


Mudroom Renovation  --- Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

2. YOU CAN'T FROST A CAKE WITH MOD PODGE


As a new blogger, I really had no idea how much I didn't know.

For one thing, I thought Mod Podge was a TV show in the 70's with Peggy Lipton. 
But when I found out it was a glaze, I used it to frost a chocolate cake. Read more...

Things I Learned From Blogging --- Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


What color is your thumb? Is it green?

My friend, B. has one of the greenest thumbs I've ever seen. For a "last hurrah" of summer, I'm going to show you around her beautiful garden.  Read more...


Secret Garden Full of Treasure --- Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


What is your favorite time of day to be outdoors on the patio or backyard?

For me, it is most definitely morning. Coffee on the deck is one my favorite simple pleasures.

When I was working full time, this ritual was definitely a weekend thing. There was no time for relaxing while I was rushing out the door to catch a train. 

But sometimes on a weekday morning, even if there was no time for drinking a cup of coffee, I'd try to find a minute to stand on the deck and drink in "home." 

Then, I'd take a sip of that vision whenever I needed it to help get me through a stressful day.  Read more...


Summer Deck: My Happy Place  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes




What do you see when you look in the mirror? Usually, I see someone who needs a few botox injections, but sometimes...

 ...if I look really hard -- past my own reflection -- it's everyday life that is staring back at me. Read more...
 
Mirrors --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
I am looking forward to spreading my blogging wings in 2014, and hope that you will continue to fly along with me, wherever my words and photos may take me. The fact that you choose to stop by this little place I created means the world to me.

Thank you, and have a happy, safe, peaceful New Year!

Oh, and call me when you get home, OK? xoxoxo

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Easy Chocolate Lava Cakes for New Year's Eve

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

Are you watching what you eat over the holidays, or are you giving yourself an-eat-whatever-you-want pass? 

I'm doing a little bit of extra indulging this year.  I'm not going crazy,  but I do think I need to be rewarded after spending the last two years in cholesterol jail.  

In fact, my doctor just gave me a get-out-jail-free card for the holidays!

Do Not Pass Go. 
Do Not Pass The Cheese Counter at Fairway...well, at least, just this one time.

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

For the past two years, my cholesterol has been inching higher, so I've been diligently watching what I eat to keep it under control. I really want to avoid the whole statin thing as long as I can. 

You have to understand that this has been torture for me! Cheese is my most favorite food on earth, and to cut it out of my diet has been cruel and unusual punishment. I can pass on the red meat...skip the egg yolks, and say no to shellfish...

But no pizza?????  No baked brie? No mac and cheese??? 

Torture, I tell you...Torture. 

I'll admit that this brutal diet has helped to keep my weight down.  Good thing, given all the baking I've done this year. And truth be told, I did get somewhat used to this cheese and butter-free lifestyle. 

The good news is that I just had my cholesterol tested again, and guess what?  It went waaaay down... it was my lowest number in years!

So at least for this holiday season, I'm ringing in the new year with saturated fats...

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes


...including these Chocolate Lava Cakes.

I mentioned in this post about an easy New Year's centerpiece, that I'd be making the lava cakes for New Year's Eve, along with my Shortbread Sparkler cookies

You cannot believe how EASY they are to make. And they are quite impressive, I might add. You will get rave reviews. RAVES!

If you've been following me, you know I'm not the kind of baker to invent my own recipes.  I just like to bring you recipes that I've found to be really worth making. And this is one of them, which was an ad for Ghirardelli Chocolate that I ripped out of a magazine back in '06.   

Now these are admittedly not my best photos. My lava cakes do not look at all like these magazine photos: 

Photo by Ghirardelli Chocolate

It was not easy to get them out of the oven,  and set them up to be photographed, while they were still hot and lava-y, but before the whipped cream melted all over it.

I almost scrapped the whole post, because I didn't like the photos, but the cakes are just too good, so I went with it.  

Fortunately for you, you will not have to photograph them before serving.  As long as they look like this when you bring them to table...

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

 ...and like this when your guests dig their forks into them...

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

...they will be a hit...and you will be a New Year's Eve Baking Diva.

A couple of notes before you start...

Plan your time, because you will need two hours to chill the chocolate centers.

These should be served immediately after baking, while the chocolate centers are soft. 

Unless you are a confident and relaxed hostess -- which I am most definitely not -- who doesn't mind whipping up a dessert while your guests are waiting with their forks in hand, the cakes can be assembled in advance. Just keep them in the fridge, and take them out about 1/2 hour before you want to serve them; then bake as directed, below. 

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

GHIRARDELLI INDIVIDUAL CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES
Recipe by Ghirardelli Yield - 6 servings

Center:
1/2 bar (2 0z.)  60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
1/4 cup Heavy Cream

Cake:
1 bar (4 oz.) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup cake flour

Whipped cream for garnish

To make centers, melt chocolate and cream in double boiler. Whisk gently to blend.

Refrigerate about 2 hours, or until firm.  Form into 6 balls; refrigerate until needed. 

To make cake, preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray six 4-ounce ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray.  

Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler; whisk gently to blend.

With an electric mixer, whisk eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla on high speed about 5 minutes, or until thick and light. 

Fold melted chocolate mixture and flour into egg mixture just until combined.

Spoon cake batter into ramekins.

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

Place a chocolate ball in the middle of each ramekin. 

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

Bake about 15 minutes, or until cake is firm to the touch.  

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

Let them sit out of the oven for about 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around inside of each ramekin, place a plate on top, invert and remove ramekin. 

Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

 Garnish with whipped cream and serve immediately. 


Chocolate Lava Cakes --- by Ms.Toody Goo Shoes

 Yes, these have lots of butter and heavy cream.  But so what? It's a special occasion.

And besides, that's what New Year's resolutions are for.

Happy New Year, everyone!






Linking With:
Tickled Pink Times Two 
Feathered Nest Friday
Be Inspired 
Weekend Bloggy Reading 
Sunday Showcase 
A Return To Loveliness 
Recipe Sharing Monday 
Metamorphosis Monday
Tweak It Tuesday  
Totally Tasty Tuesday
Time To Sparkle 
Brag About It Tuesday 
Home and Garden Thursday
Fabulously Creative Friday 
Feathered Nest Friday 
Home Sweet Home
Simple and Sweet Fridays 
Ladies Only Blog Share 
Bouquet of Talent 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Here Comes Santa Claus!




Happy Holidays -- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

To my friends
around the world
who are celebrating Christmas...
I wish you all that is 
Merry and Bright!
 
Happy Holidays!!!

Amy @ Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Monday, December 23, 2013

Best of 2013: Ms. Toody's Top Five Dessert Recipes

Top Five Dessert Recipes of 2013 --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
Who knew blogging was going to be a fattening hobby? 

When I look back at all of the baking I did, it's a wonder I didn't put on 50 pounds!

I think my New Year's Resolution for 2014 should be that I post more about salads...

or lamps...

or something non-caloric, anyway.

Anyway, sound the trumpets, dim the lights and give me a drum roll...

Here are my Five Most Popular Dessert Posts of 2013.

1. No-Bake Key Lime Pie 

Have you ever made a food faux pas?

You know, a bonafide blunder, like not knowing the proper way to eat a certain food, or asking what something is on the menu that is so common, the waitress looks at you like you're from Mars?  Read more...


No Bake Key Lime Pie --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes





2. "Brookies"  

I made these for Junior Goo Shoes when he came home from camp after being away for seven weeks.  

The parents were cheering and clapping as the buses pulled into the parking lot, unaware that on board the buses, the campers were chanting…


"TURN A-ROUND! TURN A-ROUND!"

Thankfully the bus driver didn't listen, and the kids got off the buses with great big smiles. Read more...


Brookies  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


3. Banana-tella Bread  

How do you like your bananas? On the greener side? Covered in speckles? Somewhere in between?

Everyone I talk to seems to have a very strong opinion as to where on the banana-ripeness spectrum their preference lies.

My friend told me that her very young son will only eat "dotty" bananas…and her husband had the idea to "dot" them with a Sharpie to get him to eat them. It worked, by the way.

Read more... 

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread   --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

 
4. Plain Jane German Chocolate Cake

I didn't think this was pretty and Pinteresty, but it surprised me with all the attention it got.  

Would you describe yourself as Fancy Nancy or Plain Jane?

I know, that's not really a fair question. I can't even answer it myself.

I'm a little bit of both... 


A blingy cocktail dress...
     or a flannel shirt and jeans.
A gourmet meal at a fancy restaurant...
     or grilled cheese at the diner.
A decadent dessert that's a work of art...
    or a plain piece of chocolate cake. 

Plain Jane German Chocolate Cake  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


5. Baked Apple Cider Donuts  

This was my first attempt at baked donuts, and oh, were they good! It was my most pinned post ever!

Apple cider and doughnuts go together like cheese and crackers; peanut butter and jelly;  spaghetti and meatballs.

The thought of fresh, cold cider paired with warm, home-made doughnuts takes me right back to childhood. Read more...



Baked Apple Cider Donuts   --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
Have a very  
MERRY CHRISTMAS
to those who celebrate...
 and a  
HAPPY NEW YEAR 
 to everyone!!!















Linking With:
Tweak It Tuesday
Feathered Nest Friday
Tickled Pink Times Two 
Be Inspired 
Weekend Bloggy Reading 
Sunday Showcase 
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies For New Year's Eve


Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Do you prefer sugar cookies or shortbread cookies?

I'll never turn down a cookie of any type, but shortbread cookies rank really high on my cookie-ometer. 

And shortbread with dark chocolate? Off the charts.

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
Shortbread cookies are delicious even without any adornment, but dress them up with a few sparkles, and they are ready for any New Year's Eve party. 

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
Dress me up with a few sparkles, and I'm ready for New Year's Eve, too.

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
I find shortbread dough easier to work with than sugar cookie dough. It's not sticky, so  they cut easily, and practically fall right out of the cookie cutters.

This is important: Before they go into the oven, the cookies need to be refrigerated for at least 20 minutes. 

Bake them until they are just golden around the edges, and bottom.  They should look like this when they're done:

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
The cookies are so tasty on their own, that I don't like to overwhelm them with a lot of toppings.  My favorite way is to just drizzle a little dark chocolate on them.

New Year's Eve calls for a little bling, so I added some red sugar, and a few sprinkles of Williams-Sonoma's  Gold Shimmering Sugar. 

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
The shortbread recipe I use is from Fine Cooking's 2004 Holiday Magazine.  So yeah, I've made these cookies a bunch of times over the last ten years.

They are really easy to make -- don't let the long list of instructions below from Fine Cooking put you off. They're just very explicit, which I happen to like.  

FYI, I baked both cookie sheets at the same time, and they were done in about 1/2 hour. If you bake one cookie sheet at a time, make sure you keep an eye on them, and check them much sooner.

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

CLASSIC SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Yields about  3 1/2 - 4 dozen 2-inch cookies. 

8 ounces (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  

Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl (use the paddle attachment) or a large mixing bowl.  

Mix on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn't perfectly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the flour and mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently. Mix on low until the dough has just about pulled together, about 3 minutes; don't overmix.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for uniform thickness to ensure even baking. 

Use a cookie cutter and cut out shapes as close to one another as possible.  Press the scraps together, roll them out, and cut out more cookies. If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate it briefly.  

Arrange the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes.  

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F.

Bake the cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top, 30 minutes to 1 hour.  

After 15 minutes, swap the position of the baking sheets and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking. 

If the cookies are done before 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 275°F for the remaining batches; if they take longer than one hour, increase the temperature to 325°.

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes























For the chocolate, I use Baker's  Semi-Sweet Dipping Chocolate, which is melted in the microwave.  I drizzled it on the cookies with a spoon, in a back and forth pattern.

One little word of caution -- handle the cookies gently, because once the chocolate hardens it breaks off easily. Then again, you probably won't be manhandling them for a photo shoot, but be careful anyway.

Shortbread "Sparkler" Cookies --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Enjoy, and have a Happy and Healthy New Year!






Linking With: 
Weekend Bloggy Reading 
Tickled Pink Times Two 
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Fabulously Creative Friday 
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Tweak It Tuesday 
Four Seasons Blog Hop
Mandy's Recipe Box: New Year's Eve Roundup 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A "Bubbly" New Year's Eve Centerpiece

A "Bubbly" New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Do you need a quick and easy centerpiece for New Year's Eve?

If you've got 30 seconds, I've got a simple idea for you. 

You'll need only two items (both of which I got at Michael's craft store) --

...a giant Champagne glass...


A "Bubbly" New Year's Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

...and lots of gold glass stones.

A Bubbly New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Are you ready for the tutorial?  

Step 1:

Put the stones in the glass. 

That's it...you're done! 

A Bubbly New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Now you've got a giant glass of bubbly to put on your bar, dining table or buffet table on New Year's Eve.

And you didn't think I wasn't crafty! Hah!  

A Bubbly New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

On my dining room table, I use two glasses...


A Bubbly New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
...but this year, I thought I'd change things up and use just one on the bar. 

A Bubbly New Year's Eve

Super easy.

Now, all that's left to do is to put some bubbly on ice...

A Bubbly New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

...Set up the champagne flutes... 

A Bubbly New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

...And go put your party dress on.  

A Bubbly New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes
 So what are your plans for New Year's Eve?

Do you like to go out to a fancy place, or stay at home? 

We' spend every New Year's Eve with my BFF and her hub, and we alternate houses.   Sometimes it's just us, sometimes it's with other people, too. Last year was the first time in many that we weren't together, because we were in Israel.

This year, it will be just us. Nice and quiet. Lots of time to catch up with each other.

We like to have tons of appetizers, and dessert. Who needs to eat a main course at 10 or 11pm? Not me, I'd rather stuff myself on appies, have dessert and call it a night. I'm thinking mini molten lava cakes this year, so stay tuned for that post. 

A Bubbly New Year's Eve Centerpiece that takes only 30 seconds to make!  --- by Ms. Toody Goo Shoes





















 I hope the snow doesn't ruin our plans. It's snowed three times this week, and everything's gotten cancelled. Not that we've had that much in terms of inches...just enough to be a nuisance.  It is pretty, though.

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Whatever YOU do, have a Happy, Healthy and SAFE New Year's!









Linking With:
The Scoop
Brag About It Tuesday
Wow Us Wednesday
Home and Garden Thursday 
Feathered Nest Friday 
Home Sweet Home
Ladies Only Blog Share 
Tickled Pink Times Two
Fabulously Creative Friday
Weekend Bloggy Reading 
Bouquet of Talent 
Tweak It Tuesday
Four Seasons Blog Hop 
Tablescape Thursday 
Be Inspired 
Return To Loveliness